HEALTHY LITTLE VITTLES is a food blog created by certified health coach and published author, Gina Fontana, that focuses on gluten-free + vegan + plant-based recipes that anyone can make and everyone will enjoy! Here you'll find simple, flavorful meals, many made in 30 minutes or less. All eaters are welcome!
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This Kale Caesar Salad with Polenta Croutons and Toasted Hazelnuts is such a delicious take on caesar salad! It’s such a simple salad to make, and is topped with my homemade Polenta Croutons and drizzled with my Vegan Caesar Dressing for a light, fresh, gluten-free, dairy-free, plant-based meal in just 30 minutes!
Over the last month I have published a couple new recipes all in preparation to share this Kale Caesar Salad with Polenta Croutons and Toasted Hazelnuts with you! If you saw my new Vegan Caesar Dressing post or my Polenta Croutons, you might have had a hint that a caesar salad was coming soon. You were onto something! 😉 It’s here, and I could not be more excited to share the recipe with you today.
Kale. I have a deep love for kale so it’s no wonder it’s the star of this salad recipe. But not just any kale… kale picked from my small garden this year! So exciting. It was so tender and flavorful, I wish I could grow kale in my yard all year round.
Caesar Dressing. Duh. It’s not a caesar salad without it 😉 My delicious dairy-free caesar dressing leaves out the anchovies and real dairy but still has that delicious caesar dressing flavor we all love. You can read more about the special combination dressing ingredients in my Caesar Dressing post.
Polenta Croutons. They are crispy on the outsides, with just a touch of tenderness on the inside that pairs so well with the dairy-free caesar dressing. They are perfectly spiced with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. You can read more about how these little salad topping gems earned their very own space on the blog in the Polenta Croutons post.
Toasted Hazelnuts. I love love love toasted hazelnuts and they are the absolute perfect nutty, toasty crunch this kale caesar salad needed.
Vegan Parmesan Cheese. Also a must for a proper caesar salad. You can use my Vegan Parmesan Cheese recipe, however in this recipe I really like to use the shreds you can find at the store. My 2 favorite vegan parmesan cheese brands are Violife and Follow Your Heart (not sponsored).
The number one tip, hack, must-not-skip step is to first massage the kale. Raw kale is tough making it hard to chew and even harder to digest properly. When you massage the kale with a little lemon juice, a little oil, and a little salt it breaks down the fibrous leaves making them softer, a little bit glossy, and much easier to digest. If you have found yourself saying you hate kale salads, this could bring your love for them back 🙂
You can see an example of me massaging kale in the Kale Caesar Salad with Polenta Croutons and Toasted Hazelnuts recipe reel on Instagram! You simply massage the lemon juice, oil, and salt into the kale leaves with clean hands for about 3-5 minutes, until it turns that nice dark, rich green color and appears softer.
Note: When you do massage the kale, it reduces it, so if you think the recipe calls for a lot of kale I think you’ll be surprised at how much it shrinks!
First, make the Polenta Croutons. While they are cooking, make the Vegan Caesar Dressing. Place it in the fridge while you make the rest. Toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing frequently for 7-10 minutes, until they start to turn brown. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn! Place them in a bowl while you prepare the kale. Wash the kale leaves and then tear the leaves from the stems. Add the leaves to a large bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice, oil and salt and massage for 3-5 minutes.
Now you can either mix 1/4 cup of the caesar dressing right into the salad or if you prefer you can just drizzle it over top. The same with the vegan parmesan cheese.
Top the salad with the polenta croutons and toasted hazelnuts and enjoy!
I would love to know if this Caesar Kale salad re-ignites your love for kale salads so be sure to leave a comment down below in the comments section, as well as giving it a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ so that others can discover this unique Caesar salad recipe! Tag me on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest!
First, you'll cut the ready-made polenta into cubes. Place the cubes in a glass bowl. Next, combine Italian seasoning, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, vegan parmesan cheese, and salt in a small bowl and mix together. Add the bowl with the cubed polenta and add 2 tablespoons of oil, preferably olive or avocado oil. Stir to mix well. Spray a large skillet lightly with oil and then add the croutons and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, tossing occasionally to crisp up all sides evenly. NOTE: You can also bake these in the oven or air fry them.
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender, preferably a small blender and blend until smooth. You could alternatively use a bowl and immersion blender. Add water to thin if desired and more salt & pepper to taste. Keep the dressing stored in an airtight container in your fridge for up to a week.
HEALTHY LITTLE VITTLES is a food blog that focuses on gluten-free + vegan + plant-based recipes
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